nPower Girls, a partnership between Career Connect Southwest, school districts in Southwest Washington, and community partners, is an after-school program that creates opportunities for girls across the Southwest Washington region, connecting them to STEM career and college opportunities. The mission of nPower Girls is to help break barriers in traditionally male-dominated STEM fields in order to ‘build a better workforce, better lives, and a better Washington.’
The program introduces young students to career fields where women are still vastly underrepresented. According to US Census data, women make up approximately half of the workforce but represent only 27% of STEM workers. The nPower Girls program brings relatable female mentors working in STEM fields to local schools. Location and family income can often be obstacles for young girls to gain rich STEM experiences.
“nPower Girls is offered at the school, and this eliminates a lot of barriers,” said Sharon Purdue, Career Navigator at ESD 112.
“I saw that the E in STEM was for engineering and I want to be one,” said one fourth grade student in the nPower Girls program at South Ridge Elementary School in Ridgefield, Washington. “Where my brother works, there aren’t many girls.”
Girls in the program share a common interest in an environment that encourages collaboration, exploration, active listening, questioning, and higher-level thinking.
Four schools in Clark County and two schools in Klickitat County are participating in the nPower Girls program this school year. Hockinson Heights Elementary (Hockinson,) Pleasant Valley Intermediate (Battle Ground,) Sunset Intermediate (Ridgefield) and South Ridge (Ridgefield) host nPower Girls programs after school. In Klickitat County, Klickitat School District and Glenwood School District offer one combined nPower Girls program at Glenwood School District. There are currently 73 students participating in the program across Southwest Washington; this number has steadily increased each year.
“We hope to continue growing and scaling the program so that every district is able to offer nPower Girls,” said Purdue.
Programs like nPower Girls connect business, education, and community leaders to provide academic programs for young people to explore and learn close to home. Dedicated student support teams utilize the expertise and resources of business and community members to guide girls as they explore college and career opportunities. By offering these programs, ESD 112 helps to foster connections between young students and their community.
About nPower Girls
nPower Girls is a partnership between Career Connect Southwest, school districts in Southwest Washington, and many community partners to develop career exploration opportunities for young women in grades 4th – 6th. The goal of nPower Girls is to introduce young girls to career opportunities in STEM fields in their communities by connecting them directly to women who are professionals in business and industry.